SketchUp Model for Mini VTec Front Subframe

A year ago I started the process of putting a VTec into my classic round-nose Mini.

It’s been quite a process.

One of the things I found lacking was the amount of digital assistance or plans for subframes. It would seem lots of people just go for a pre-made frame – which is all well and good if you get access to them. However, being from New Zealand, we’d have to pay double to get one shipped here.
So our only option is really to build our own.

I’ve spent ages looking through other’s builds and chatted with a few different people who have made their own. All of them used the original subframe towers and built off it. At this point I’d like to thank Dutchy for his build journal (, which is quite a good guide for identifying a) what to do and b) what to look out for.
One of his photos outlines a bunch of measurements which were instrumental in being able to complete my subframe build. It took a while to convert all the inches to mm though! However, photos can only show so much detail from one angle, and are not terribly easy to build from in a 3D space.

So, I wanted to give back in some way, for those who are looking to build their own subframe, and want something digital to work from.

Now that I’ve essentially got a frame that is fitted into the Mini, and the Engine also fits in the frame, I took a bunch of measurements from my frame, and spent the last few days creating a 3D model of the subframe in SketchUp. This is as close a model as I’ve been able to make to reflect my frame measurements, as well as, being as close as possible to the shape and dimensions from the original subframe.

Download from SketchUp

While I’m not going to absolutely guarantee that EVERY measurement is 100% accurate, I have tried to be as close to the actual sizes and dimensions as I can. I’m certainly no SketchUp guru, so there may be some better ways to create some of the nuances of the shaped metal subframe towers. For this, I just used a box with some shape modification.

At the very least it should provide any builder a starting point to take initial measurements from. And from that you’ll be able to make small adjustments as you build the subframe so that it fits in your Mini.
I’m still in the process of finishing off the subframe, so there may still be some changes to come. But for now, this is pretty much the final dimensions for you to use.

Let me know any feedback you have.

Mini Bonnet Badge


With the new installation going on of a Honda VTec in the Mini, there are a number of elements to think about and contemplate. 

On Friday, we ran out of gas for the welder, and so my attention goes elsewhere to the build.

One of the things I can do is work on little details and additions that would be quite cool, design them, and then set about getting them done.

This is one of those things. The Bonnet Badge. 

At the moment it has the standard British Leyland badge on it, as seen here. 

It’s original. It’s pretty plain. Doesn’t draw the eye away from the rest of the Mini. 


Not that I want it to be a show stopper. In fact, I quite like this version over the other options. 

But something like this requires some personalisation, as opposed to sticking with original features.

Having seen the Classic Mini logo, the wreath with the red lettering, I saw the link to the red Honda logo. This got me thinking I could merge the two. 

The original logos for Honda and Mini are shown at the sides. This is to help show where my concepts have come from. 

The other option is to take Option 1, and make it Black like my current Leyland badge.

Upon further consultation with various members on the NZ Mini Owners Group on Facebook, and seeing as the Honda wings comes from their Motorcycle division, I came up with three further designs that feature other aspects.

Let me know in the comments what you think!


VTec in the Mini – First Dry Fit

So today is a pretty massive day in the life of MAHVIN. Today, the VTec went into the engine bay for the very first time. 

Not only that but the subframe tower bolts went in and the car become one part.

Sure – there are still some adjustments to be made, and some parts need to be finalised, but it was such a relief to see all the hard work over the last year finally paying off and the end dream coming into fruition. 

The moment before it all happened.
A combination of dollies, hoist, and jack to wrangle the engine into place in MAHVIN.
It's in! Also... a huge bonus having Minivation's vertical hinges working their magic here!

The official proof. Those that own Mini’s will know what the arrow is pointing to. 

For those who don’t, the arrow is pointing to the tower bolt. This bolt screws into the top of the front subframe and joins it to the car. 

Essentially this photo is PROOF that we got the VTec into the Mini!

Note the VTec rocker cover in the foreground (over exposed so that the bolt can be seen)

The b16a VTec in place, sitting proud as punch. Obviously we left the engine straps on as we will be in and out a few more times before the final fitment. 

Note the socket wrench used to fasten the subframe tower bolt!


MAHVIN the Mini

In 2008 I purchased a 1980 Morris Mini LE. It is still my dream car, and I love that I own one.

Since owning it, I have replaced just about everything on it with something newer and more reliable. That was the plan anyway.

In 2013, my brother and I put in a 1275 engine.

However, we never got it running right, and it still leaked oil like a sieve.


In 2018, I purchased a donor car with a Honda b16a VTEC engine. We set about dismantling the entire car, keeping what we needed for the transplant and ditching the rest.

We have begun work on the subframe, something that is key to get right in order to get the VTEC and the Mini working in unison.

In 2019, I finally figured out the name for my Mini. Starting off as Gherkin for it’s Spanish Olive Green paint job, I had it painted Gun Metal Silver in 2010, meaning the name didn’t stick. We tossed around a few names: Remmington, HiHo, The Silver Bullet; but none really stuck.

Now with the intention of installing the VTEC in it ourselves – a new name was needed. “Marvin the Mini” had a good ring to it, and I wanted to make it a bit more linked to the car than just that. I began thinking of different acronyms that could spell out MARVIN – given the V could be for VTEC. Being that we are a couple of amateurs when it comes to fabrication and mechanics, the name became “MAHVIN”, each letter standing for “Mini And Honda VTEC Integrated by Novices”.


New Car – Post 2000

It’s come to the point in time where the reliability of my beloved 1980 Mini LE has come to an end. Whilst I will continue to keep hold of my dream car (and my first!) and look after it, it will sadly be held under a blanked for 9 months of the year until the glorious New Zealand sunshine comes out to play in December, January, and February.


In the process of looking for a new (but used) car, the conundrum of whether to go with a Pre-2000 car vs. a Post-2000 car has come up. This is because of the possible change in law sometime in 2013, where cars that were made after 2000 will be required to only get one WOF per year. All those of vintage years before the year 2000 will have to continue to get a WOF every six months.
Initially I began ruling out pre-2000 cars because of the WOF issue. The inconvenience of having to get it warranted every six months is annoying, but it is manageable. It is also an additional cost, at $50 per WOF.
But looking at the prices, I’m seeing that the difference between 1999 cars and 2001 cars of the same make and model is about $2000. Now, if my maths is right, then at an additional $50 per year (because ONE payment of $50 a year still has to be made), means that it would take 40 years of additional WOF’s to make up the difference that I’m paying.
My wife also pointed out that, like health issues, if they are found early then they can be treated sooner. Having a problem for a good part of a year going unnoticed could end up costing more than finding the problem at it’s early stages every six months.
So I have now been able to reason with myself and help out my wallet, by re-including pre-2000 cars in my search for new wheels.

Mini - boot

Mini Boot

Mini - boot

For a while I’ve been meaning to get around to finishing off my Mini’s boot. Since I got it painted, I ripped out the old backing, and was ready to put the new carpet base in. A can of adhesive spray that sticks your arm hair together later and it was done!

Mini 2010

Return of the Mini

Mini 2010

It took a long, agonising six weeks. After an initial quoted two, and minimal customer contact, I finally got back my beloved Mini yesterday.
It needed some rust taken out of it, and so I figured that whilst that was getting done, Id pay a few extra dollars and come away with the paint job Id always intended, just not as early as this.
It is half a month until I would have had my Mini for a year…
An early birthday present for it…




It was a celebratory trip to Staglands with Vicky. With the Mini safely back in my hands, it was time for a road trip.

We headed out to Staglands, and then continued on out across the Akatarera’s to Lindale, Paraparaumu and to Plimerton for Dinner.

These are some of the old rustic photos I took of the wildlife passed away.


Boot Tray - Before

Boot Tray Project

Boot Tray - Before

(Boot before Tray being fitted)

Over the last few weeks I’ve been passing the time by tidying up my boot.
Mini’s boots contain both the spare wheel and the battery, and the fuel tank is also exposed in this area. Added to this I’ve been chucking in a mat to help manage the oil leak.
It was time to tidy it all up by fitting a tray that will tighten up the whole look.
The main tray is made from plywood, and has been cut to fit and covered in carpet.

Boot Tray

(Boot with tray installed. Folds down flat)